CLC claim issues over Walker's terms of reference
Members of the community liaison committee (CLC) claim Walker Environmental Group has dumped its responsibility to keep the public informed surrounding a proposed landfill in Zorra Township.
Thomas Corbett, a member of the CLC tasked with representing the community in monthly meetings with Walker, said issues have arisen over the last month regarding the draft Terms of Reference required in Walker’s application.
Corbett said it would be almost impossible for the public to digest the amount of material included in Terms of Reference in the timeframe provide.
“It’s on the Walker website but you’re talking 6,000 pages and every other page was put online upside down,” Corbett said.
Corbett claims the CLC received hard copies of the three volumes of information that had pages upside down and missing words.
That has since been fixed but Corbett said CLC members did not receive the correct versions until several days later.
“Now we don’t even have a full 30 days,” he said.
The CLC requested the comment period be extended to 60 days instead of the 30 days Walker decided on. As it stands now all comments need to be received by June 21.
Both the CLC and OPAL (Oxford People Against the Landfill) are concerned the public will not read the documents or provide comment because the amount of material is intimidating.
“Even if you could spend four hours a day reading this, and who has four hours a day to read it, you would have to read on average 200 pages (a day) to get it completed by the deadline for comments,” he said.
Corbett said the CLC worries a lack of publicity surrounding the draft terms means the public isn’t aware it is out there for them to comment.
“The public won’t even have a week to read it. The notices aren’t getting out to the public. The public needs to be made aware of these things,” he said.
Corbett also pointed to past problems regarding CLC meetings and the lack of space for the public to attend.
“We hold meetings once a month and there’s only a small space for the public to attend. They have to call ahead and get on a list. So out of the thousands and thousands of people this might impact, only about 10 can come to a meeting. There’s been two or three open houses held in Woodstock and they only had about 100 people come but it’s because they aren’t advertising,” he said.
Joe Lyng, general manager of Walker Environmental Group dismissed the claims the Niagara-based company is trying to make it difficult for the public to stay informed and said the company has gone above requirements set out in the Ministry of Environment application process.
“I understand that people look at the documents as really intimidating and we don’t want the size of the documents to put them off,” he said.
He encouraged the public even if they haven’t read the draft terms to send in questions and comments so answers can be provided.
Lyng said the 6,000-page document is broken into three volumes.
The first volume is the actual Terms of Reference, which outlines studies Walker will undertake to determine if the site meets requirements for a future landfill.
“It’s a summary of everything done up to this year and how we plan to move forward. It’s about 50 pages,” he said. “That’s the document we would really appreciate any comments on.”
Volume two includes background information that has been available online since September, Lyng said.
Volume three includes activities Walker has completed in a 90-page report and about 4,000 pages of information that has been distributed to the public through requests made by the CLC or other organizations.
Lyng said Walker does not want to increase the timeline the public has to comment on the draft report.
“We think that 30 days is appropriate and given the material was out there for a significant period time… What we really want to know is there something we missed in volume one,” he said.
Lyng said unfortunately there was a conversion issue when printing the documents that caused the errors in the hard copy of the terms of reference.
Copies of the Terms of Reference are available at municipal offices in Oxford County and public libraries as well as online at www.walkerind.com
The deadline to comment on the Terms of Reference is June 21. Lyng said the final version of the terms will be submitted to the MOE at the end of July and will then posted again for comment for 30 days.